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Neymar to miss three months, says Brazil National Team doctor

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Neymar could miss the rest of the league campaign with PSG, according to the Brazilian National Team doctor.

The Brazilian star suffered a sprained ankle and broken metatarsal in his right foot and will undergo surgery in Brazil this weekend. But after it was initially thought he could be fit to face Real Madrid next week or miss just six to eight weeks, the timetable has been lengthened to three months, which would put Neymar’s return to competitive action just two weeks before the start of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

For the first time, Dr. Rodrigo Lasmar spoke publicly about Neymar’s surgery and used stronger terms and narrower deadlines for the World Cup,” Henrique Fernandes’s tweet says, translated. “The doctor said “fracture” and not “fissure” on the toe, used the term “important injury” and estimated within three months the recovery.”

Brazil will surely be hoping that his recovery from the injury is shorter than three months so Neymar can get a few games under his belt and be match fit before Brazil’s opening game against Switzerland on June 17.

But it’s a massive blow to PSG, which could be knocked out in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League by Real Madrid despite spending big last summer exactly to avoid this scenario, and the French club will likely be without Neymar the rest of the season.

Russian authorities fine hotels for World Cup price-gouging

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MOSCOW (AP) Russian authorities in two cities say they have issued hundreds of fines after finding many hotels were illegally hiking prices for the World Cup.

The Rospotrebnadzor consumer regulator says one Moscow hotel raised prices up to 570 percent above what is allowed by a government decree designed to prevent excessive profiteering during the tournament.

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The regulator’s Moscow branch says it issued fines totaling 5.95 million rubles ($105,000) to 198 legal entities and 181 people.

In the Ural mountain city of Yekaterinburg, where Mexico and France will each play a group game, the regulator said it fined seven hotels, some of which were charging almost three times the allowed rate for rooms.

Russian authorities have taken a hands-on approach to regulating hotel and travel costs during the tournament to prevent the negative publicity of visiting fans being charged large sums.

Russia warns of locusts destroying World Cup fields

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MOSCOW (AP) A plague of locusts could destroy the fields in World Cup stadiums this year, the Russian government said Wednesday.

Locusts often feast on crops in southern Russia and the person who oversees plant protection at the agriculture ministry said they could descend on stadiums, too.

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“We have more or less learned how to deal with locusts, but this year I’m afraid we could end up in an international locust scandal,” Pyotr Chekmaryov said in comments reported by state news agencies. “Soccer fields are green. Locusts like places where there is a lot of green. What if they fly to the places where football is played?”

Chekmaryov pointed out the Volgograd region as a particular concern.

Group games in Volgograd will include England’s match against Tunisia and a game between Poland and Japan.

Addressing a conference of agricultural experts, Chekmaryov said it was “our responsibility” to ensure that Russians do not “disgrace ourselves in front of global society, especially where we will have guests from all over the world.”

Biggest travel winners, losers from World Cup draw

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The World Cup draw is important on so many levels.

Every team’s first game sets the tone for the rest of the group stage, and possible opponents could give fans hope or fear for whether the team will make it to the knockout stage.

But for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the draw was important from a travel perspective as well.

According to the blog Kalingrad Guide, Colombia won the “shortest travel” sweepstakes. By being placed in H3, Colombia and its fans will only have 472 miles to travel within the group stage, from Saransk to Kazan to Samara.

At the other end is Sweden, which will have around 2,896 miles to travel between host cities. Sweden starts in central Russia in Nizhny Novogrod before traveling to the southern-most host city Sochi, before a trip to the eastern-most host city, Yekaterinburg.

That doesn’t take into account either the travel for teams between their game sites and their home base. For example, England will have to travel more than 500 miles each way for all three of its group stage matches from its home base to the game.

For what it’s worth, Germany in 2014 had one of the longest travel schedules throughout Brazil, and they still managed to win the whole thing. We’ll see what happens this time around.

Southgate: Always “big pressure” on England

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While every team at the World Cup finals deserves to be there, England surely came away one of the happier nations on Friday after the 2018 World Cup draw.

England were placed in Group G alongside Belgium, Panama and Tunisia, the latter two nations that England – at least on paper – will be expected to beat.

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Speaking after the draw, Gareth Southgate told reporters in Moscow that although the core of the current England squad are young, there is always “big pressure” put on the Three Lions by England fans.

“I think with England there is always big pressure, like all of the big football countries,” Southgate said. “Our supporters have high expectations. With this team it’s a little bit different, we’re quite a young team, (we) don’t have huge experience with tournament football, but it’s a team with a lot of potential and a team that we think will improve in the next few years.”

If fit, England could have one of the younger average ages across the squad, with 20-year-old Marcus Rashford, 21-year-old Dele Alli, 22-year-old Raheem Sterling, 23-year-old Eric Dier, 23-year-old John Stones, 23-year-old Jordan Pickford and 24-year-old Harry Kane all likely to play a major role next June/July.

Hear what Southgate had to say after the draw.